Buoyed by their thumping win in Mumbai, defending champions Atletico de Kolkata will look to climb up the ladder when they face bottom-placed NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League football match in Kolkata on Saturday.
After suffering a three consecutive losses, including one at home, the injury-ravaged ATK bounced back in style picking up a 4-1 win against the in-form Mumbai City FC, which had three wins on the trot.
The win in Mumbai also saw their main forward Iain Hume opening his account after a quiet six matches.
The former Kerala Blasters striker had taken up ATK’s sole striker’s role in Antonio Habas’ 4-2-3-1 formation after Portuguese World Cupper Helder Postiga returned home with a hamstring injury.
The Canada International’s lean patch had hurt ATK miserably but after their win in Mumbai, they will now hope to be a transformed side.
Of their three successive losses, one had come at the Highlanders home venue in Guwahati and ATK would look to avenge the defeat before taking on another struggling team, Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi on November 10.
With four successive home outings to conclude the league stage, the reigning champions have an excellent opportunity to make the playoffs with ease.
As for the team update, the hosts are expecting their marquee player Postiga to return in a week’s time while Javi Lara and Izumi Arata are still doubtful.
In another development, ATK have brought back Mohammad Rafique, who had scored the winning goal in their title triumph last season, and the East Bengal midfielder will once again be seen in a key role.
Frenchman Cedric Hengbart has risen to the task of leading the Highlanders this season after skipper Miguel Garcia was side-lined for the remainder of the campaign during their first match.
The 35-year-old has been exceptional at the back for NorthEast this year and it will be interesting to see him clash against Hume.
With Josemi out injured for ATK, Tiri (Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo) has slotted in alongside Arnab Mondal to form a strong centre-back pairing for Kolkata.
The visitors, on the other hand, will look to their most potent attacking force in Argentine Nicolas Velez, who has netted thrice this season, and Portuguese winger Simao Sabrosa who has two goals to his credit.
Their marquee player Sabrosa’s second-half free-kick had earned the John Abraham’s side an important away point against Delhi Dynamos FC in the last match and their coach Cesar Farias will look to build on from here and move up the standings.
“For us, it is a tremendous point. It is one which gives us the edge, (provides opportunity) to skyrocket… And one of the most important things is that it is difficult to forget the wins or losses and move on to the next one,” the Venezuelan said after their draw.